10. Mekhi Becton’s run blocking
Possessing an enormous frame (6-foot-7, 364 pounds), endless length (35.6-inch arms), and ridiculous athleticism for his size (5.10-second forty-yard dash), Mekhi Becton proved himself to be an effective run blocker as a rookie. He ranked 23rd out of 72 qualified tackles in Pro Football Focus’ run blocking grade (73.9) and 16th in ESPN’s run block win rate (76%) while building an intimidating highlight reel on film.
Becton has the potential to develop his run blocking to the point where it is one of the most recognizable signature skills in the entire NFL, but for now, it is fair to call him a “very good” run blocker until he officially takes that next step. He can still get better at driving defenders rather than simply striking at them with the intention of creating one forceful shove, which is what he tends to do fairly often.
That is an effective strategy when you are as talented and physically gifted as Becton is, but there is still room for growth. Sometimes, Becton would whiff on his punch and defenders would beat him to the inside to make plays. Other times, Becton would make a good initial block but fail to maintain it, allowing the defender to get back into the play after being moved at the start.
With better hand placement and an increased focus on latching to defenders, Becton will improve at sustaining blocks, allowing him to create even more movement than he already does.
9. Morgan Moses’ run blocking
As broken down on film by Jets X-Factor’s Joe Blewett, Morgan Moses showed noticeable growth in 2020, enjoying a career-best season at 29 years old. He was one of the highest-regarded run blockers in the NFL, earning an 85.9 run blocking grade at PFF that ranked sixth-best among all tackles and second-best among right tackles (trailing San Francisco’s Mike McGlinchey).
The Washington Football Team picked up 46 conversions (41 first downs, 5 touchdowns) on rushes to the right side in 2020, tying for the seventh-most in the NFL.
8. Marcus Maye’s on-ball playmaking
Marcus Maye set a career-high with 11 passes defended in 2020, equaling his career total over the previous three seasons combined. That mark tied him for third-best in the league among safeties.
Since 2018, Maye has recorded an interception or a pass breakup on 30.0% of the passes thrown his way, ranking eighth-best out of 75 qualified safeties over that span. The positional average in this category was 14.5% in 2020.
7. Quinnen Williams’ pass rushing
Like Becton’s run blocking, Quinnen Williams‘ pass rushing can still get even better, but for now, he is still an upper-echelon player in this area.
Williams ranked 12th among interior defensive linemen with an average of 3.0 pressures per game in 2020. His efficiency was excellent, as he ranked at the position’s 88th percentile with a pressure rate of 10.3%.
Early in the season, Williams alternated between dominant performances and quiet ones. He wrecked the 49ers (Week 2) and Broncos (Week 4) but did not do much in the passing game against the Bills (Week 1), Colts (Week 3), Cardinals (Week 5), and Dolphins (Week 6). Through Week 6, he was averaging 1.2 pressures per game on a 4.8% pressure rate.
From there on out, Williams began to establish consistency, showcasing All-Pro potential over an extended period. Over his final seven games of the season, Williams averaged 4.4 pressures per game on a 13.3% pressure rate. The average of 4.4 pressures per game ranked third-best among interior defensive linemen from Weeks 7-17 (trailing Leonard Williams and Aaron Donald).
6. Elijah Moore’s three-level prowess
We have no idea if Elijah Moore‘s collegiate success will translate to the NFL (as is the case with every rookie), but this particular fact about his game impresses me so much that I simply had to include it.
Moore is a true do-it-all wide receiver. He can make things happen at every level of the field. His elusiveness with the ball in his hands is well-documented, but what does not get enough attention is that he is similarly dangerous (if not more so) as a deep and intermediate threat.
On deep targets (20+ yards downfield) in 2020, Moore averaged 61.3 yards per game, ranking second in the FBS behind only future Dolphins first-round pick Jaylen Waddle (65.8).
On intermediate targets (10-19 yards downfield), Moore produced 43.3 yards per game, placing second in the country. Only future Seahawks second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge beat him out.
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5. Corey Davis’ contested catches
At BYU, Zach Wilson loved to give his outside receivers chances to make plays in contested situations along the sideline. Wilson was confident enough in his ball placement to make jump-balls of this ilk a core part of his game – and he was successful with it thanks to his precise accuracy on these throws.
Corey Davis is the perfect receiver to complement this ability of Wilson’s. His frame screams “contested-catch guy” as he stands at 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds with 33-inch arms.
However, not every receiver with great size makes the most of that size to thrive at making contested catches. Being able to grab 50-50 balls is a skill that must be developed. Having a big frame certainly is helpful in those situations, but it is not a guarantee that every wide receiver or tight end with size, strength, and length is actually good in jump-ball situations (see: Hill, Stephen).
Davis is an example of a receiver who has made the most of his physical tools to become a truly effective contested-catch player. Over the last two seasons, PFF credited Davis with catching 21 of his 31 “contested” targets, a 67.7% rate. That ranked second-best out of 93 qualified wide receivers and tight ends over that span, trailing only Michael Thomas (68.9%).
4. John Franklin-Myers’ pressure
John Franklin-Myers was one of the most efficient pass rushers in the NFL last season. He ranked eighth among interior defensive linemen with 51 pressures despite ranking 30th with 353 pass-rush snaps. His pressure rate of 14.4% trailed only Stephon Tuitt (14.5%) and Aaron Donald (17.2%) among interior defensive linemen.
Consistency was an integral part of Franklin-Myers’ game. He didn’t pump up his numbers in a handful of games – he was at least “good” in almost every game he played. In 13 of his 15 games, Franklin-Myers had multiple pressures and a pressure rate above the IDL league average of 7.0%.
For comparison, Quinnen Williams only hit both of those marks in 8 of his 13 games (which isn’t a bad rate for Williams at all – Franklin-Myers’ consistency was just flat-out incredible).
3. C.J. Mosley’s all-around game
From a production standpoint, C.J. Mosley doesn’t really have one world-beating trait that stands out from the rest of his strengths.
However, from a film and play style standpoint, Mosley’s fundamentals, instincts, and football IQ are what stand out. Those traits manifest themselves on the stat sheet through his all-around greatness. It is not a single strength that makes Mosley stand out, but rather, his ability to perform at a top-notch level in every key area.
Among 53 qualified active linebackers over the past five seasons, Mosley owns the ninth-best tackle-to-missed tackle ratio (12.9-to-1), eighth-best PFF coverage grade (73.1), and seventh-best PFF run defense grade (73.6).
2. Carl Lawson’s pressure
Carl Lawson‘s pressure-producing excellence and contrasting lack of sacks have already been discussed endlessly this offseason. Time will tell if Lawson’s low sack totals are a product of his own poor finishing ability or if he was held back by the poor defense around him in Cincinnati.
Regardless of whether or not the sacks come, Lawson has already proven he can win his battles and cause havoc at an elite rate, and that is what pass rushers have the most control over. He ranked fourth among edge rushers with 64 pressures last season. His efficiency was equally elite as he ranked fourth with a 14.6% pressure rate.
The most promising aspect of Lawson’s pass rushing track record is the fact that his odds of continuing to be elite in the future are very strong since his efficiency has been elite throughout his entire career. His 2020 output was not a fluke – rather, it was completely normal for him.
Lawson’s career pressure rate prior to 2020 was 14.1%, barely below the outstanding 14.6% rate he posted in his career-best season. His career-high rate actually came in his rookie year (15.2%), and he has never gone below 13.1% in a season. For comparison’s sake, Khalil Mack’s pressure rate over his three years as a member of the Bears is 12.9%.
Lawson just never stayed healthy enough or got enough snaps per game to rack up the high-volume production that he did this past season – his total of 723 snaps in 2020 beat out his previous career-high (2017) by 246 snaps. The elite efficiency has always been there.
1. Quinnen Williams’ run defense
Exemplifying how great he could potentially become, Williams makes this list twice.
Williams was the only Jet who led the NFL in a meaningful category last season. With 28 run stops (a stat tracked by PFF, described as tackles that constitute a failed play for the offense) in 13 games, Williams averaged 2.2 run stops per game, tops in the NFL among interior defensive linemen.
Of course, you would expect Williams to get a lot of chances to collect run stops for two reasons – he played a lot of snaps per game as a starter and teams ran the ball down the Jets’ throats to drain the clock in blowout wins – but even those facts do not take away from Williams’ potency in this category. He was extremely efficient on a per-play basis, too.
Williams tied for sixth at his position in total run stops (28) while ranking 62nd in snaps played against the run (206). His run stop rate of 13.6% trailed only Sebastian Joseph-Day (14.2%) among the 97 interior defensive linemen to play at least 150 snaps against the run.
Possessing top-3 potential in both phases of the game, Williams’ potential is mesmerizing.
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